Family Circle Cup 2010, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
April 17, 2010
Editorial by Jane Voigt, Photography by Pablo Sanfrancisco.
Onward WTA Winners
April 17, 2010 -- Caroline Wozniacki, the top seed at this year's Family Circle Cup, retired from her semifinal match this afternoon with a twisted right ankle. After a prolonged point that saw every type of stroke in a tennis handbook, Wozniacki sprinted up to the net, attempting to scoop a drop shot. She arrived late. As she slid, she came to an abrupt stop, rolled her ankle, and burst into tears clutching the injury.
"I knew right away that something was wrong," Wozniaki said. "I could hear a snap and, you know, it was painful."
Ironically, Caroline's opponent Vera Zvonareva suffered a right ankle injury in the third round at this event last year and on Stadium Court. Zvonareva was driven off court in a golf cart.
Although The French Open is six weeks away, it is the second Major of the year. Players use the lead-up tournaments to prepare mentally and physically. They want to perform their best. The Grand Slams carry the most points and prestige.
With a non-specific right ankle injury clouding Wozniacki's spring match schedule, The French Open remains in question. Her MRI is scheduled for tomorrow. Her team will know, then, if the ankle is broken. One encouraging sign... she could play a couple points after on-court medical attention; and, she walked off the court.
"As it looks right now, it's not too bad," Wozniacki said. "I'm just going to try to get a lot of treatment. The next twenty-four hours are the most important."
Zvonareva missed the entire clay courts season in 2009, because of her tumble in Charleston. She went to Paris, but couldn't compete. Her rank plummeted. She was #5 last year coming to Charleston. This year, she came in at #22. The Russian, however, has learned not to live by rankings alone. Her goal is winning, adding "rankings... it's not the most important thing."
Zvonareva's injury required arthroscopic surgery to remove scar tissue in November 2009. Disconcerting is the fact that she has taken close to a year to completely recover. She tolerates three hours of practice now, without stiffness or pain the next day. "Right now I feel pretty much recovered."
Even if Wozniacki's injury requires longer than expected rehabilitation, her #2 ranking may not be in jeopardy, which is good news for the Dane. She doesnŐt have many points to defend up through The French Open; and, Serena Williams has a lock on number one, for now.
Samantha Stosur slugged her way to Sunday's final match, defeating Daniela Hantuchova 63 76(2). Stosur won her first Tour title at Osaka in November 2009. She advanced to the semifinals at this year's BNP Paribas Open and the Sony Ericsson Open.
"It's great to be in another singles final," Stosur began. "I've been getting close this year. I've had consistent results, so I think I'm getting rewarded for doing that week in, week out. I want to try and win this. I'd leave here very happy."
Stosur defeated Zvonareva in Indian Wells seven weeks ago. But, and again, clay is the great equalizer. To predict an outcome would be tricky, but let's say that both women are silently preparing for victory. Zvonareva said she'd play her best, which includes a massive variety of shots and tactics. Stosur will pound the ball and go for the point as soon as the opportunity presents itself, and, if all goes as planned, serve well.
"She's very powerful," Hantuchova said, following her loss. "She almost plays like a man, in a very good way, plays with a lot of spin, and the serve is huge."
Stosur served eight aces today, which pushes her week's total above twenty and the most of any player here.
"She was serving slice serves at 118 MPH, which I think you don't see on the men's tour too often," Hantuchova continued. "She's a very strong girl. She works hard and definitely deserves to be there [in the final]."
Since Zvonareva didn't play any clay court tournaments last year, she has no points to defend. She will play Rome and Madrid -- one of the four WTA Premier Mandatory events of the year -- before the big one in Paris. Red clay isn't green clay, like here in Charleston. She will have to work on her footing and leave the injury way behind in her mind, if she expects to penetrate the draw. She will, though, get a seeded position in the draw, which will help her chances of advancing.
If Samantha Stosur remains healthy, which as we witnessed today isn't assured, she will arrive in Paris as a top-ten threat. Seeded number thirty in 2009, she fought her way to the semifinals where she lost to the eventual champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
"I didn't actually see Caroline fall today," Stosur said. "But going into clay court, grass court, anything that's a bit uneven, you maybe are a bit more cautious. But you can't play carefully. You still have to move free and feel like you've got control out there. Otherwise, you won't move at all."
(7) Vera Zvonareva (RUS) d. (1) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) [light blue dress] 52 ret. (right ankle sprain)
Blue Angel Flyby Over Family Circle Cup
(4) Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. (8) Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) [yellow shirt] 63 76(2)
Earlier Columns from this Event:
April 16, 2010 Family Circle Cup: Having A Good Week in Charleston -- Hantuchova, Jankovic, Wozniacki, Petrova, Zvonareva, Oudin, Stosur, Peng
April 15, 2010 Family Circle Cup: Teenage Tennis - Oudin, McHale, Jankovic, Rodina, Stosur, Dushevina, Hantuchova, Kerber
April 14, 2010 Family Circle Cup: Big Guns Take Aim at Family Circle Cup
April 13, 2010 Family Circle Cup: Love The One You're With
April 12, 2010 Family Circle Cup: Power and Perfume Launch Family Circle Cup
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